David Maslanka composer
Western Illinois University Wind Ensemble | Mike Fansler conductor
John McMurtery flute
Moisés Molina cello
THE RIVER OF TIME, Navona Records’ latest release, is a captivating tour de force by conductor Mike Fansler and the Western Illinois University Wind Ensemble. Recorded by legendary engineer Bruce Leek – whose recording portfolio includes the President’s Own Marine Band – this album captures the full emotive intensity of one of America’s finest collegiate ensembles.
The album begins with composer David Maslanka’s O Earth O Stars – Music for Flute, Cello & Wind Ensemble. The first movement, “Chorale,” opens like the canopy of the night sky before us, as it takes its melody from J. S. Bach’s reverent “Jesu, meine Freude,” or “Jesus my joy.” As the album progresses, Fansler adeptly pilots his musicians through tight dynamic shifts, breathtaking melodic modulations, and razor-sharp releases. “Dragons and Devils of the Heart,” the fourth movement, is a raucous and enthralling adventure; the music soars and dives with cinematic grandeur. O Earth O Stars ends with another chorale, providing a majestic and passionate conclusion to the first work. Following the concerto comes Maslanka’s Symphony No. 10, The River of Time. “Alison,” the first movement, is soft and contemplative with bursts of brash defiance. The gentleness of the horns is suddenly wracked by a veritable tempest, and we imagine Fansler reaching an imploring hand from the conductor’s podium toward his musicians. The ensuing movements never let the listener grow complacent; evocative solos are interrupted by towering crescendos and fluttering scalar runs. The final movement “One Breath in Peace,” begins tenderly before transcending into song. The symphony concludes in the same way each morning began in composer David Maslanka’s studio; one male voice, gently floating atop the melody of the piano playing a Bach Chorale.
THE RIVER OF TIME is both a profound musical accomplishment and an inviting work suitable for music lovers of every age. Fansler’s commitment to excellence is revealed in his ensemble’s performance; marked by careful attention to detail and impeccable execution, THE RIVER OF TIME will no doubt echo through speakers and headphones for ages to come.